If you are starting a business and need direction, this checklist is a valuable resource. Go here to register for workshops and schedule a consulting appointment, or call (813) 204-YBOR (9267), and select Option #4. You can also download a printable version of the Small Business Start-Up Guide.
Attend one of the introductory workshops for starting your business.
These workshops are offered throughout the year at various locations in the community, as well as at the Entrepreneur Collaborative Center. The workshops will include important information and resource materials to help start your business.
Prepare a pre-business plan summary
This is a general overview of your business idea(s). Include business location, number of employees, and to whom your business will market. On a separate sheet of paper, summarize your idea in 50 words or less. Be sure to estimate your start-up costs, monthly expenses, and cash flow.
Determine business organization type
Limited Liability Company*
*If your business will be a Partnership, Limited Liability Company, or a Corporation, you must register under the Florida Business Corporation Act. Contact the Florida Division of Corporations, Bureau of Corporate Records, Tallahassee, (850) 245-6000, Sunbiz.org Franchise, for information visit SBA.Gov
Fictitious name – If a Sole Proprietorship uses any name other than the owner's legal name, or if a Corporation uses a name other than its legal corporate name, a fictitious name (also referred to as a D/B/A) must be registered with the State. Register this name before pursuing any license or permit. Contact the Florida Division of Corporations, Tallahassee, (850) 245-6000, and select option #5, Sunbiz.org
Certain business types may require specific licenses in order to conduct business. Review the list below and contact the agencies to see if any additional licenses are needed for your business.
In order to be licensed in Hillsborough County, contractors are required to file a complete application, obtain approval of that application from the Licensing Board, pay appropriate fees, and pass the state Experior Assessments Examination for their licensing category. If you plan to work outside Hillsborough County, you may need to take a state examination.
- Hillsborough County – (813) 272-5600, select 4 - Plans and Permit Information (PGM Store)
- State of Florida – (850) 487-1395, MyFloridaLicense.com
Many businesses need to be licensed through the State. Call the number listed below or visit the website to verify if your type of business would require a license through the State. Examples of businesses that need professional licenses are: hair and nail salons, accountants, all types of construction, and more. Contact the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, (850) 487-1395, MyFlorida.com/DBPR
Department of Hotel & Restaurant
Your business may require a license or permit through this State department. The local office is at 3725 W. Grace Street, Suite 520, Tampa. (850) 487-1395 MyFloridaLicense.com/DBPR
Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services
Your business may require a license or permit through this State department.
Fresh from Florida - Consumer Services - (800) 435-7352
Zoning and permitting
All businesses, including those that are home-based and store-front, should research the necessary zoning and permitting laws of the County and City where their business will be located.
- Zoning and Permitting, (813) 272-5600
- Plans and Permit Information (PGM Store)
If necessary, contact the appropriate city:
City of Tampa
- Zoning, (813) 274-3100 Option 1
- Permitting, (813) 274-3100
City of Temple Terrace
- (813) 506-6420
City of Plant City
- Planning and Zoning, (813) 659-4258
Business tax receipt
A Business Tax Receipt is required for anyone conducting business in Hillsborough County. Also, if your business will be located within the city limits of Tampa, Plant City, or Temple Terrace, in addition to obtaining a Hillsborough County Business Tax Receipt, you may need to obtain a City Business Tax Receipt. Contact the city where your business will be located to determine the city requirements.
Business Tax - Hillsborough County
Business tax - Cities
The type of taxes and the rate at which you pay taxes depends on the nature of the business, the legal organization and number of employees, if any.
- Internal Revenue Service – The local office is at 3848 W. Columbus Drive, Tampa, (813) 348-1831. Many questions can be resolved online without visiting a Taxpayer Assistance Center (TAC), however, if you believe your tax issue can only be handled face-to-face, please visit the Contact My Local Office in Florida page to find the closest TAC center to you so that you can schedule an appointment.
- Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) Online. Business hours are 7 AM - 10 PM.
- Important: The IRS cannot process your application online if the responsible party is an entity with an EIN previously obtained through the Internet. Please use one of their other methods to apply. See How to Apply for an EIN.
- IRS Tax Calendar for Businesses and Self-Employed. View due dates and actions for each month. You can see all events or filter them by monthly depositor, semi-monthly depositor, excise, or general event types.
- Knowing the basics about taxes can help you run your business better. See the Small Business and Self-Employed Tax Center on IRS.gov for more information.
- You can select and download multiple small business and self-employed forms and publications or you can call (800) 829-3676 to order forms and publications through the mail.
- Sales Tax – If your business is required to collect tax, contact the Department of Revenue, (850) 488-6800, option 4 - DOR.MyFlorida.com
- Unemployment Insurance Tax – (800) 482-8293, option 3 - DOR.MyFlorida.com
Insurance and bonding
In order to obtain the best insurance protection for you and your business, consider the following:
Your homeowner’s or automobile insurance company may offer business insurance; if not, ask for a referral to another company before cold calling.
Florida Department of Financial Services (800) 342-2762, MyFloridaCFO.com
Liability, Property, and Automobile Insurance
Business Interruption Insurance
Home Office - If your business is being operated from your home, contact your homeowner’s insurance provider to update your policy to include coverage for office equipment and/or inventory, etc. A standard homeowner’s policy will not cover business operations or assets.
Employee Insurance - If you hire employees, you may be required to provide unemployment insurance.
Worker’s Compensation, (850) 413-1609, or (800) 342-1741, MyFloridaCFO.com/Division/wc/
Surety Bonds, SBA.gov
Most banks will not make loans to a start-up business. The following are possible financing sources or areas to research for different options:
Personal Savings, 2nd Mortgage on Home, Friends, Relatives, and Credit Cards
U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Loans – Check with your bank for a U.S. SBA loan officer, SBA.gov
Attend our financing workshop held throughout the County to gain valuable knowledge about the lending process and how to apply. Register for workshops and other resources.
To establish the credit history for your business or to conduct business with the federal government, you will need to obtain a Dun & Bradstreet Data Universal Numbering System (D-U-N-S) Number. Obtaining a D-U-N-S Number is easy and free. Visit DNB.com or call (844) 281-0961
Develop your idea
Test your idea with potential customers and others who will offer constructive feedback, e.g., friends, relatives, bankers, and suppliers. Be prepared to make changes based on their responses.
Protect your idea
If your product or idea needs a patent, copyright, or trademark, contact the following numbers and/or websites to obtain more specific information:
Patent Office – Washington D.C., 1-800-786-9199, USPTO.gov
Copyright - U.S. Library of Congress, (202) 707-5959, Copyright.gov
Trademark – Federal, 1-800-786-9199, USPTO.gov
Trademark – State, (850) 245-6051, Sunbiz.org
Prepare your business plan
Everyone needs a written business plan. The details of your business plan depend on the type of business you will have. Even a home-based, start-up business with you as the only employee needs a business plan. This business plan will be your road map to success. To obtain a loan or grant, a business plan is required.
Attend the Business Plan Workshop or a Preparing Your Business Plan Workshop
Register for a workshop here or call (813) 204-9267.
Make an appointment with a Business Counselor to review your business plan
Starting a small business will prompt many questions and decisions. If you have any questions, or would like to have your business plan reviewed, contact Entrepreneur Services. You can register for no-cost, individual, confidential consulting on the site, or call (813) 204-9267 to schedule an appointment.